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Daydream Nation (33⅓ #39)

3.08  ·  Rating Details ·  248 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
There are moments on Daydream Nation when the record's aggregate narratives, boggling sound composites, and distributed energies reach a level of intensity so pitched the whole thing seems to hover on the brink of self-implosion. These moments, when the record is played at appropriately upsetting volumes, have physical corollaries that often involve shooting waves of alarm ...more
Paperback, 174 pages
Published 2007 by Continuum
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Chad Post
Aug 04, 2012 Chad Post rated it liked it
I went on a bit of a Sonic Youth bender when I was in Michigan last week, and because I love this particular album so much, I decided to read this short, entertaining book.

Matthew Stearns isn't a great writer--his prose is hyperbolic to the extreme, his conversational style frequently comes off as faux-naive and annoying, and he uses more superlatives than should be allowed by law.

That all said, Daydream Nation (the album) is a masterpiece, and it's interested to look at from a number of differ
Jul 31, 2007 Dan rated it it was ok
for an album with so much discursive potential, it's really sad to see it tackled by a writer who is more concerned about showing how much he looooooooooooves the album and how critically important it is that you love it as much as him than actually talking about the album. his lyrical analysis wouldn't pass snuff in a high school english class. he makes a point and then reiterates it with slightly different phrasing multiple times. the book's only saving grace is the interviews with the band me ...more
Mar 20, 2016 Mallory rated it did not like it
Welp, I've been reminded why I basically stopped reading books by white men.

The good:
-It can be weird to try and talk about Sonic Youth's music in concrete terms, and the author nails descriptions of their music very well occasionally.
-The interviews with the band.

The bad:
-The author's sexism is so thinly veiled that he might as well have just said "I don't like women."
Bill Fuller
Jun 27, 2011 Bill Fuller rated it did not like it
One thing is certain: "Daydream Nation" ROCKS MATTHEW STEARNS' WORLD! This is about all I could discern from his book after 160 pages of effusive praise for the band and the album. Don't get me wrong, I like Sonic Youth (not nearly as much as Stearns) and I think "Daydream" is a great album, but the reason I picked up the book (as I'm sure most readers will) was to get a little insight into the making of the album. Instead, we get a chapter on each track (conclusion: each track is AWESOME!) brok ...more
Jul 29, 2008 Erin rated it it was ok
The beginning of this book is boring and pretentious; filled with metaphors for music and what s.y. means to the writer. I finally started getting into it when he started to break down the songs on the record. I agree that it is an amazing album, however, I disagree with many of the authors ideas on lyrics and themes. I recommend reading about each song and then listening to it.
Jared Busch
Mar 15, 2008 Jared Busch rated it did not like it
God, this was terrible. I couldn't even finish it. Some of the most pretentious bullshit I've ever read in my life. Gives me hope (or maybe it should depress me) that ANYONE could get published as long as you know the right people, because that's obviously the only way this hack got on the shelf.
Jul 17, 2007 Jesse rated it it was ok
Pretty goddamn ponderous. The liner notes for the expanded reissue are more informative, though there are some cool interviews with Lee Ranaldo.
Dave Whip
Nov 22, 2012 Dave Whip rated it did not like it
Shelves: unreadable
This book is terrible.

I love Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation as much as the author does. I know it's a great album. That's why I bought the book.

But instead of getting a more objective, factual, well researched account of it's conceptualisation and creation, you just get the author jerking off, in ridiculous language about what happens in his head when he listens to the songs.

It is nearly unreadable, I don't know why they payed this guy to write it, I don't know why they published it.

Don't waste y
Jul 02, 2011 Lauren added it
Poorly written. I don't need someone to tell me why most of the public can't and won't listen to Sonic Youth and how the rationale behind this is "bullshit" -- I mean, duh. He could have summed that up in one word: atonality. Instead we're met with wordy, adverb-globbed masturbatory drivel about how "hardcore" and "intense" Daydream Nation is. Daydream Nation is a gorgeous, revolutionary, many-layered rock record that deserves far better treatment than what Stearns gives it. He should try bloggi ...more
Feb 16, 2009 Dave rated it did not like it
Not one of the best in the 33 1/3 series. Too much autobiographical stream of consciousness BS and loose ties to sketchy ideas (e.g. Kim singing about Satan? Which apparently the author mentioned to the band and they said "no, it's not about that at all" it still makes it in the book? WTF? or my personal favorite is the author wondering what kim singing "kick it" is about, right after pages of describing the band recording in the same studio as Public Enemy, befriending PE and getting into ...more
Eric Skillman
Sep 25, 2007 Eric Skillman rated it did not like it
Meh. This is what I was worried these 33 1/3 books would be: bland, overthought, masterbatory rock criticism. Is there some sort of all-adjective thesaurus they give out in the Village Voice music department? Honestly, I couldn't even make it through the whole book.

Still a fucking great record, though.
Apr 13, 2014 Vicki rated it it was ok
This is the first book in the 33 series I’ve read so far. I chose it simply because it was the only one available at my library.

It is a difficult read. As others have related, the author’s love and admiration of Daydream Nation knows no bounds. If he is to be believed, the album is the be-all and end-all of human existence. I was more interested in (and thought the book might put more emphasis on) the making of the album and the band’s point of view at the time. Who were they as people and as a
Jul 06, 2013 Hans rated it liked it
Daydream Nation is one of my favorite albums. It is in the short list of my most-listened-to albums. I have a lot of love for this collection of songs and deep appreciation for this powerful musical statement.

This was actually my car cassette tape* for many years. As soon as I started the engine, Thurston, Kim, Lee Ranaldo, and Steve Shelley kicked into gear to sonically accompany me to the next destination. It was an infinite loop where "Teen Age Riot" wasn't the first song, but simply the son
No Books
Complete and well-researched analysis of the most important album by arguably the most important and innovative band of their time.
The author, musical critic Matthew Stearns, works backwards from the recent official acknowledgment as a true historical document: in 2006 the US Library of Congress added Daydream Nation to the permanent archives of the National Recording Registry. Not the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame... Nice deed for an indie rock album.

Following a foreword by Lee Ranaldo, a prefac
míol mór
Complete and well-researched analysis of the most important album by arguably the most important and innovative band of their time.
The author, musical critic Matthew Stearns, works backwards from the recent official acknowledgment as a true historical document: in 2006 the US Library of Congress added Daydream Nation to the permanent archives of the National Recording Registry. Not the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame... Nice deed for an indie rock album.

Following a foreword by Lee Ranaldo, a prefac
Patrick McCoy
Sep 24, 2011 Patrick McCoy rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
Daydream Nation (1988) recorded by Sonic Youth, and written about by Matthew Stearns, is one of those seminal albums that led to the modern rock explosion. Or as one documentary, "the year that punk broke." It's funny but I didn't realized that it was a double album, since I had it on CD, but that seems significant as they were playing with classic rock traditions in their conception of the album as Stearns points out. There are Led Zepplin-like Germanic symbols on the sleeve and contains a song ...more
Jack Wolfe
Jun 11, 2013 Jack Wolfe rated it liked it
Stearns writes a lot like I do, so when he subtly revealed over the course of this book that he's far, far older than twenty-five, I was like, "Wow... That's weird." My impression was that once you got older than twenty-five you...
- Stopped describing all songs you like as "THE BEST SONG EVER"
- Refrained from using the word "fucking" in every sentence
- Realized that band testimony and uh, facts are gonna be a whole lot more interesting and connective for people than your weird fantasy about the
Aug 05, 2013 Carol rated it did not like it
Shelves: music
Daydream Nation is one of my favorite rock albums of all time - it sounds like a certain kind of summertime, it's got raging intensity and delicate beauty, it's just so full.
Unfortunately, this book is pretty much the opposite. It's crap, to put it bluntly. Stearns' writing is terrible - an unappetizing stew of purple prose and pretentiousness. He focuses so much on his own very personal experiences and perceptions of Sonic Youth's music that he crowds out any real analysis or insight. At least
Mar 19, 2009 Charlie rated it liked it

Don't read this book unless you love this album, no music should ever be written about in this disgustingly irreverent manner, I don't blame the author as this seems to be the mandate for what is essentialy an inadvisable amount to write about one album series - 331/3.

The interesting facts of this book could easily be condensed in to a much more engaging, managable text. Stearns's interrpretations of the lyrics are considered and interesting, but there is a great del of text considering they are
Elliot Chalom
Sep 06, 2015 Elliot Chalom rated it it was amazing
Stearns' analyses of the songs may not be perfect, but they are genuine heartfelt expressions of what the music means to him. Coming from such a devoted fan, that makes them plausible if not likely explanations for the sound coming through the speakers. And that in turn makes the music come even more alive than it already is, adding another dimension to this already classic album.

Read my full review over at:
Gaelan D'costa
Dec 11, 2012 Gaelan D'costa rated it it was ok
Shelves: 33-1-3
A lot of hyperbole. A little bit of elitism in reference to other bands (only cementing the aura of aloofness and hipsterism around Sonic Youth that the author is trying to dispel.) There were a couple of interesting facts about the band and the album, but a significant amount of the interpretative text reads not as research into the album's creation but the author's impression of what the songs might mean, which I feel the 33 1/3rd serious is not the place for.
Nov 10, 2008 Jeff rated it it was ok
I learned how much Matthew Stearns loved the album, and what he thought a lot of the songs were about, but I didn't learn all that much about SY or very much about the specifics of the making of Daydream Nation. In the words of another friend, it was 160p review of the album. This is the first 33-1/3 book I've read; I hope others are better.
Jun 28, 2009 Rick rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
I left this in boston - oops - it'll probably be a while before I finish it but I Love love love love the imagery of soho during the new wave years, and I love knowing where all those studios were and how some of the most important albums of our generation were recorded in a neighborhood that is now basically a giant shopping mall.
Jonathon Izzard
Mar 14, 2013 Jonathon Izzard rated it liked it
For any lover of this timeless album, this may be worth a read but only for the incites from the band themselves mainly the contributions from Lee Ranaldo. Matthew Stearns clearly loves the album and the band but it's wholly just his interpretation of the record so don't absorb it too seriously.
Jul 30, 2009 Nathan rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Kurt Cobain
Shelves: 33-1-3-series
While I love this record wholeheartedly, I'm not sure my expectations were met here. Mr. Stearns walks the line between being a fanatic and an academic. His wavering makes is an uneven read that is full of pieces that don't seemingly fit into his overall concept of a pregnant void.
Nov 28, 2011 Robin rated it did not like it
I love this album, which is why I was so disappointed with this tripe. This has got to be one of the most fawning, pretentious, unbelievable, uncritical, overwrought pieces of writing I've ever read about any music. I wonder if all the other books in this series are this bad.
Nic Dafis
Jan 06, 2013 Nic Dafis rated it it was ok
Methu gorffen y llyfr oherwydd yr arddull erchyll mae sawl un yn sôn amdano yma. Ond o leia mae brwdfrydedd yr awdur wedi f'annog i fynd yn ôl a gwrando ar DN eto, sawl gwaith, a chlywed pethau do'n i ddim wedi sylwi arnynt o'r blaen. Yr ail seren am hynny, felly.
Andy Peters
Feb 03, 2008 Andy Peters rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
I did not know that the person who left the answering-machine message in "Providence" was Mike Watt!

"Thurston ... Watt! .... Thurston! Did you find your shit?"

I agree with the author's thesis ... Sonic Youth's finest hour is a seriously scary record.
Aug 16, 2016 Robert rated it it was amazing
Dizzily informative. This book talks about every single detail of Daydream Nation and rightfully so, Since SY are about detail. If you are a massive fan of this record then do read the book, it will enhance the listening experience.
Oct 06, 2008 Alison rated it it was ok
If you want a track by track breakdown of Daydream Nation then this is the book for you. If you want to learn about the band Sonic Youth, you should read "Our Band Could Be Your Life."
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